Nancy L Van Devanter


Nancy L Van Devanter headshot

Nancy L Van Devanter

Professor Emerita

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Nancy L Van Devanter's additional information

Nancy L. Van Devanter, PhD, is a professor at the Rory Meyers College of Nursing. Since the 1990s, she has conducted behavioral intervention research integrating a community-based participatory research approach into the development and testing of theory-driven interventions to promote health and reduce disease in populations with significant health disparities in HIV, STDs, and tobacco-related disease. She has also worked in close collaboration with state and local health departments to develop programs improve community-level health and public health practice. Since coming to NYU, she has been involved in numerous interdisciplinary collaborative studies with the NYU School of Medicine, Dentistry, and Public Health Program.

She received a PhD from Columbia University School of Public Health, MPH from Harvard School of Public Health, and EdM from Boston University.


PhD - Columbia University School of Public Health (1992)
MPH - Harvard School of Public Health (1985)
EdM - Boston University (1975)
BS - Boston University (1974)
Diploma - St Agnes School of Nursing (1964)


American Nurses Association
American Public Health Association
American Sociological Association
Council for the Advancement of Nursing Science
Public Health Association of New York City

Faculty Honors Awards

Fellow, American Academy of Nursing (2011)
Fellow, New York Academy of Medicine (2011)
Fellowship in STD Prevention Association of Teachers of Preventive Medicine, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (1999)
Public Health Achievement Award, New York City Department of Health/ Mailman School of Public Health, Columbia University (1999)
Commendation, Office the Secretary, US Department of Health and Human Services for contribution to the National AIDS Education Prevention Program (1998)


Effectiveness of a Multicomponent Strategy for Implementing Guidelines for Treating Tobacco Use in Vietnam Commune Health Centers

Shelley, D., Cleland, C. M., Nguyen, T., Vandevanter, N., Siman, N., Van Minh, H., & Nguyen, N. (2022). Nicotine and Tobacco Research, 24(2), 196-203. 10.1093/ntr/ntab189
Introduction: Strategies are needed to increase implementation of evidence-based tobacco dependence treatment (TDT) in health care systems in low-and middle-income countries (LMICs). Aims and Methods: We conducted a two-arm cluster randomized controlled trial to compare the effectiveness of two strategies for implementing TDT guidelines in community health centers (n = 26) in Vietnam. Arm 1 included training and a tool kit (eg, reminder system) to promote and support delivery of the 4As (Ask about tobacco use, Advise to quit, Assess readiness, Assist with brief counseling) (Arm 1). Arm 2 included Arm 1 components plus a system to refer smokers to a community health worker (CHW) for more intensive counseling (4As + R). Provider surveys were conducted at baseline, 6 months, and 12 months to assess the hypothesized effect of the strategies on provider and organizational-level factors. The primary outcome was provider adoption of the 4As. Results: Adoption of the 4As increased significantly across both study arms (all p <. 001). Perceived organizational priority for TDT, compatibility with current workflow, and provider attitudes, norms, and self-efficacy related to TDT also improved significantly across both arms. In Arm 2 sites, 41% of smokers were referred to a CHW for additional counseling. Conclusions: The study demonstrated the effectiveness of a multicomponent and multilevel strategy (ie, provider and system) for implementing evidence-based TDT in the Vietnam public health system. Combining provider-delivered brief counseling with opportunities for more in-depth counseling offered by a trained CHW may optimize outcomes and offers a potentially scalable model for increasing access to TDT in health care systems like Vietnam. Implications: Improving implementation of evidence-based TDT guidelines is a necessary step toward reducing the growing burden of noncommunicable diseases and premature death in LMICs. The findings provide new evidence on the effectiveness of multilevel strategies for adapting and implementing TDT into routine care in Vietnam and offer a potentially scalable model for meeting Framework Convention on Tobacco Control Article 14 goals in other LMICs with comparable public health systems. The study also demonstrates that combining provider-delivered brief counseling with referral to a CHW for more in-depth counseling and support can optimize access to evidence-based treatment for tobacco use.

Implementation Facilitators and Challenges of a Place-Based Intervention to Reduce Health Disparities in Harlem Through Community Activation and Mobilization

VanDevanter, N., Zhong, L., Dannefer, R., Manyindo, N., Walker, S., Otero, V., Smith, K., Keita, R., Thorpe, L., Drackett, E., Seidl, L., Brown-Dudley, L., Earle, K., & Islam, N. (2022). Frontiers in Public Health, 10. 10.3389/fpubh.2022.689942
Background: To address significant health inequities experienced by residents of public housing in East and Central Harlem compared to other New Yorkers, NYC Department of Health and Mental Health (DOHMH) collaborated with community and academic organizations and the New York City Housing Authority to develop a place-based initiative to address chronic diseases in five housing developments, including a community activation and mobilization component led by community health organizers (CHOs). Purpose: Guided by the Consolidated Framework for Implementation Research (CFIR), we evaluated the initial implementation of the community activation and mobilization component to systematically investigate factors that could influence the successful implementation of the intervention. Methods: Nineteen in-depth qualitative interviews were conducted with a purposive sample of CHOs, community members and leaders, collaborating agencies and DOHMH staff. Interviews were transcribed verbatim, and themes and codes were developed to identify theoretically important concepts of the CFIR and emergent analytic patterns. Results: Findings identified important facilitators to implementation: positive community perception of the program, CHO engagement and responsiveness to community needs, CHO norms and values and adaptability of DOHMH and CHOs to community needs. Challenges included the instability of the program in the first year, limited ability to address housing related issues, concerns about long term funding, competing community priorities, low expectations by the community for the program, time and labor intensity to build trust within the community, and the dual roles of CHOs as community advocates and DOHMH employees. Conclusions: Findings will guide future community activation and mobilization activities. The study demonstrates the value of integrating implementation science and health equity frameworks.

Dominican Provider Attitudes Towards HPV Testing for Cervical Cancer Screening and, Current Challenges to Cervical Cancer Prevention in the Dominican Republic: a Mixed Methods Study

Liebermann, E., Van Devanter, N., Frías Gúzman, N., Hammer, M. J., & Ompad, D. (2021). Journal of Cancer Education, 36(6), 1170-1185. 10.1007/s13187-020-01746-w
Creating effective programs for cervical cancer prevention is essential to avoid premature deaths from cervical cancer. The Dominican Republic has persistently high rates of cervical cancer, despite the availability of Pap smear screening. This study explored Dominican provider attitudes towards human papillomavirus (HPV) testing and current challenges to effective cervical cancer prevention. In this Consolidated Framework for Implementation Research (CFIR)–driven mixed methods study, we conducted in-depth interviews (N = 21) and surveys (N = 202) with Dominican providers in Santo Domingo and Monte Plata provinces regarding their perspectives on barriers to cervical cancer prevention and their knowledge and attitudes towards HPV testing as an alternative to Pap smear. Providers believed the main barrier to cervical cancer prevention was lack of cervical cancer awareness and resulting inadequate population screening coverage. Providers felt that Pap smear was widely available to women in the Dominican Republic and were unsure how a change to HPV testing for screening would address gaps in current cervical cancer screening programs. A subset of providers felt HPV testing offered important advantages for early detection of cervical cancer and were in favor of more widespread use. Cost of the HPV test and target age for screening with HPV testing were the main barriers to acceptability. Providers had limited knowledge of HPV testing as a screening test. The group was divided in terms of the potential impact of a change in screening test in addressing barriers to cervical cancer prevention in the Dominican Republic. Findings may inform interventions to disseminate global evidence-based recommendations for cervical cancer screening.

Dominican Provider Practices for Cervical Cancer Screening in Santo Domingo and Monte Plata Provinces

Liebermann, E., Hammer, M. J., Gúzman, N. F., Van Devanter, N., & Ompad, D. (2021). Journal of Cancer Education, 36(4), 693-701. 10.1007/s13187-020-01690-9
Cervical cancer is the second leading cause of cancer death for women in the Dominican Republic. Pap smear screening in the Dominican Republic has not achieved adequate reduction in cervical cancer mortality. The purpose of this study was to examine Dominican provider practices for cervical cancer screening and the use of national or international screening guidelines. We surveyed 101 gynecology specialists, 50 non-specialists, and 51 obstetrics-gynecology residents in the Santo Domingo and Monte Plata provinces of the Dominican Republic regarding their cervical cancer screening practices and use of guidelines. Bivariate (chi-square) analyses were conducted to compare screening practices by demographic and practice characteristics. The majority of providers followed WHO guidelines (62.9%) and/or Dominican national norms (59.4%). The majority (87%) of providers use time since first sexual activity as the basis for screening initiation; 96% advise screening every 6–12 months. The most commonly used screening test is the conventional Pap smear. Colposcopy was recommended most often for all abnormal Pap results. Dominican providers report they follow national and/or international cervical cancer screening guidelines. They do not follow age-based screening guidelines, nor have they adopted an extended interval for screening and continue to recommend screening at least annually. A culture of early and frequent screening has consequences in terms of cost, high demand for follow-up services, and reduced capacity to reach the populations at highest risk. Early screening also may challenge the acceptability of adopting alternative screening technologies such as HPV testing.

The psychosocial impact on frontline nurses of caring for patients with COVID-19 during the first wave of the pandemic in New York City

Kovner, C., Raveis, V. H., Van Devanter, N., Yu, G., Glassman, K., & Ridge, L. J. (2021). Nursing Outlook, 69(5), 744-754. 10.1016/j.outlook.2021.03.019
Background: Infectious disease pandemics, such as COVID-19, have dramatically increased in the last several decades. Purpose: To investigate the personal and contextual factors associated with the psychological functioning of nurses responding to COVID in the New York City area. Method: Cross sectional data collected via a 95-item internet-based survey sent to an email list of the 7,219 nurses employed at four hospitals. Findings: 2,495 nurses responded (RR 35%). The more that nurses cared for COVID patients as well as experienced home-work conflict and work-home conflict the higher the nurses' depression and anxiety. When asked what has helped the nurses to carry out their care of patients the most common responses were support from and to co-workers, training in proper PPE, and support from family/friends. Discussion: Understanding the potential triggers and vulnerability factors can inform the development of institutional resources that would help minimize their impact, reducing the risk of psychological morbidity.

Psychosocial resilience: Challenges and facilitators for nurses from four New York City hospitals responding to the first wave of COVID-19, spring 2020: Qualitative findings from a mixed-methods study

Devanter, N. V., Raveis, V. H., Kovner, C., Glassman, K., Yu, G., & Ridge, L. J. (2021). Journal of Emergency Management, 19(9), 147-158. 10.5055/jem.0619
Frontline workers are at great risk of significant mental health challenges as a result of responding to large-scale disasters. We conducted a mixed-methods study to identify the challenges experienced and the resources nurses drew upon during this first phase of the COVID-19 pandemic in the spring of 2020 in New York City (NYC). The qualitative data presented here are on 591 nurse participants in the qualitative arm of the study. Responses to qualitative questions were reviewed by one of the investigators to identify emerging themes. Two qualitative researchers used both deductive (guided by the Resilience Theory) and inductive approaches to analysis. Challenges identi fied by nurses included concerns about well-being and health risk; mental health symptoms such as depres sion, anxiety, and difficulty sleeping; fears about the ability to care for patients with severe life-threatening symptoms; and home-work challenges such as risk to family and friends; and lack of availability of institutional resources, particularly, personal protec tive equipment (PPE). Facilitators of resilience were institutional resources and support available; social support from coworkers, friends, and family; and positive professional identity. Recommendations for promoting resilience in future disaster/pandemic responses included clarification of disaster-related professional responsibilities, integration of disaster preparedness into professional education, and engage ment of nurses/frontline workers in preparation plan ning for disasters.

Attributes of High-Performing Small Practices in a Guideline Implementation: A Multiple-Case Study

Nguyen, A. M., Cuthel, A. M., Rogers, E. S., Van Devanter, N., Pham-Singer, H., Shih, S., Berry, C. A., & Shelley, D. R. (2020). Journal of Primary Care and Community Health, 11. 10.1177/2150132720984411
Objective: HealthyHearts NYC was a stepped wedge randomized control trial that tested the effectiveness of practice facilitation on the adoption of cardiovascular disease guidelines in small primary care practices. The objective of this study was to identify was to identify attributes of small practices that signaled they would perform well in a practice facilitation intervention implementation. Methods: A mixed methods multiple-case study design was used. Six small practices were selected representing 3 variations in meeting the practice-level benchmark of >70% of hypertensive patients having controlled blood pressure. Inductive and deductive approaches were used to identify themes and assign case ratings. Cross-case rating comparison was used to identify attributes of high performing practices. Results: Our first key finding is that the high-performing and improved practices in our study looked and acted similarly during the intervention implementation. The second key finding is that 3 attributes emerged in our analysis of determinants of high performance in small practices: (1) advanced use of the EHR; (2) dedicated resources and commitment to quality improvement; and (3) actively engaged lead clinician and office manager. Conclusions: These attributes may be important determinants of high performance, indicating not only a small practice’s capability to engage in an intervention but possibly also its readiness to change. We recommend developing tools to assess readiness to change, specifically for small primary care practices, which may help external agents, like practice facilitators, better translate intervention implementations to context.

Barriers to Cervical Cancer Screening and Treatment in the Dominican Republic: Perspectives of Focus Group Participants in the Santo Domingo Area

Liebermann, E. J., VanDevanter, N., Shirazian, T., Frías Gúzman, N., Niles, M., Healton, C., & Ompad, D. (2020). Journal of Transcultural Nursing, 31(2), 121-127. 10.1177/1043659619846247
Introduction: Cervical cancer is the second leading cause of cancer death among women in the Dominican Republic, and high rates persist despite existing Pap smear screening programs. The purpose of this study was to explore Dominican women’s knowledge and attitudes regarding human papillomavirus (HPV) and cervical cancer, cervical cancer screening practices, and perceived barriers and facilitators to early detection of cervical cancer. Method: Six focus groups (N = 64) were conducted in Spanish in urban, suburban, and rural locations, in private and public school settings, community and workplace settings, in or near Santo Domingo, as part of a larger study on barriers and facilitators to HPV vaccine implementation. Audio recordings were transcribed verbatim and translated from Spanish to English. Qualitative data analysis used inductive and deductive approaches. Results: Knowledge regarding HPV and cervical cancer varied across groups, but all agreed there was significant stigma and fear regarding HPV. Most women reported having Pap screening at least yearly. Follow-up of abnormal Pap testing was less consistent, with cost and uncertainty about provider recommendations identified as barriers. Discussion: Broader examination of provider-level and health system barriers and facilitators to cervical cancer prevention in the Dominican Republic is essential, in order to inform interventions to improve the effectiveness of cervical cancer screening and treatment programs and reduce preventable deaths.

Parent-Level Barriers and Facilitators to HPV Vaccine Implementation in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic

Liebermann, E., Devanter, N. V., Frías Gúzman, N., Ompad, D., Shirazian, T., & Healton, C. (2020). Journal of Community Health, 45(5), 1061-1066. 10.1007/s10900-020-00830-y
Cervical cancer is the second leading cause of cancer death for women in the Dominican Republic. Vaccination against human papillomavirus (HPV) could reduce mortality from cervical cancer globally by as much as 90%. The purpose of our study was to explore multi-level barriers and facilitators to implementation of a national HPV vaccine program in the Dominican Republic; this article focuses on parent-level barriers and facilitators. In this qualitative study, we conducted six focus groups (N = 64) with parents of school-age children in the Santo Domingo area of the Dominican Republic, representing diverse socioeconomic groups and geographic settings. Thematic content analysis, using inductive and deductive approaches, was done following transcription and translation of audio-recordings from focus group discussions. Among this group of parents in the Santo Domingo area, facilitators to vaccine uptake were favorable attitudes towards vaccines in general and concern about cervical cancer as a health issue. Barriers found were low to moderate knowledge of HPV and cervical cancer, especially in the rural and suburban groups, and cost and lack of public awareness of the vaccine. This study identified key barriers and facilitators to HPV vaccine implementation in the Dominican Republic. Health messaging, incorporating specialist providers as opinion leaders, will need to be tailored to broad audiences with varying levels of information and awareness, anticipating misinformation and concerns, and will need to emphasize HPV vaccine as a method to prevent cancer.

A qualitative assessment of factors influencing implementation and sustainability of evidence-based tobacco use treatment in Vietnam health centers

VanDevanter, N., Vu, M., Nguyen, A., Nguyen, T., Van Minh, H., Nguyen, N. T., & Shelley, D. R. (2020). Implementation Science, 15(1). 10.1186/s13012-020-01035-6
Background: Effective strategies are needed to increase implementation and sustainability of evidence-based tobacco dependence treatment (TDT) in public health systems in low- and middle-income countries (LMICs). Our two-arm cluster randomized controlled trial (VQuit) found that a multicomponent implementation strategy was effective in increasing provider adherence to TDT guidelines in commune health center (CHCs) in Vietnam. In this paper, we present findings from a post-implementation qualitative assessment of factors influencing effective implementation and program sustainability. Methods: We conducted semi-structured qualitative interviews (n = 52) with 13 CHC medical directors (i.e., physicians), 25 CHC health care providers (e.g., nurses), and 14 village health workers (VHWs) in 13 study sites. Interviews were transcribed and translated into English. Two qualitative researchers used both deductive (guided by the Consolidated Framework for Implementation Research) and inductive approaches to analysis. Results: Facilitators of effective implementing of TDT included training and point-of-service tools (e.g., desktop chart with prompts for offering brief counseling) that increased knowledge and self-efficacy, patient demand for TDT, and a referral system, available in arm 2, which reduced the provider burden by shifting more intensive cessation counseling to a trained VHW. The primary challenges to sustainability were competing priorities that are driven by the Ministry of Health and may result in fewer resources for TDT compared with other health programs. However, providers and VHWs suggested several options for adapting the intervention and implementation strategies to address challenges and increasing engagement of local government committees and other sectors to sustain gains. Conclusion: Our findings offer insights into how a multicomponent implementation strategy influenced changes in the delivery of evidence-based TDT. In addition, the results illustrate the dynamic interplay between barriers and facilitators for sustaining TDT at the policy and community/practice level, particularly in the context of centralized public health systems like Vietnam’s. Sustaining gains in practice improvement and clinical outcomes will require strategies that include ongoing engagement with policymakers and other stakeholders at the national and local level, and planning for adaptations and subsequent resource allocations in order to meet the World Health Organization’s goals promoting access to effective treatment for all tobacco users.